2022 Top Distributors: How Kotis Design Grew Its Company by Cutting Ties with Bad-Fit Customers
As part of Print+Promo Marketing's 2022 Top Distributors list, we asked some of the top-ranked distributors about what their future plans look like, and trends they've kept their eyes on in the industry. Here, we talked to Kotis Design CEO Jeff Becker — No. 33 on our 2022 list — about how cutting ties with some customers, even when it meant a drop in business, created opportunities for future success.
When the pandemic hit, Kotis Design didn't go all-in on PPE like other distributors did. While it sold some, the company mainly spent 2020 preparing for its future, staying true to its pre-pandemic business plan and reevaluating its customer relationships, in some cases letting go of clients it no longer saw as a good fit. The edit result of that strategy was a significant drop in sales for 2020. But, since then, Kotis has been surging.
The company reached $49.2 million in sales for 2021, a 38.6% increase over its pandemic low and one of the largest jumps of any distributor on our list. Jeff Becker, CEO of Kotis, credits that jump to his team, and to a progressive approach that had already seen the company implementing many business strategies other companies wouldn't consider until after the pandemic hit.
"We were lucky in the sense that our team, outside of our warehouse staff, was almost already exclusively remote, so that transition was easy," Becker says. "The fact that sales dropped by 50% was tough, but we got through it because our team rallied—our office staff, but also those who kept coming in through the entire pandemic. Because so many companies have transitioned to remote and employees now live everywhere, and our focus pre-pandemic was around kitting and fulfillment, we've really been able to capture a lot of business and help our clients achieve their goals using swag."
What They're Watching: "Everything is in flux, from domestic supplier inventory to Chinese factories, from customer needs to employee hiring," says Becker. "It's never been more important to understand your numbers, to look at KPIs and to know the health of your clients. Things are changing at a faster pace than ever, some things seemingly every day. There's no longer time to just sit and be OK with the status quo."